May 31, 2002

NETWORK HELP REQUEST: Okay, the home wireless network sort of works. About one time in ten the laptop connects fine. The other computer never does. Both can see the network, and report an excellent connection -- but when I try to launch Explorer on the laptop, the MSN log-in appears every time; when I make it go away I can access Explorer only in offline mode. The other computer just returns a "page not found" response. I've spent a lot of time fiddling with the Windows network settings, to no avail. Any suggestions?


On your notebook, when you say the MSN logo appears every time, is this like the dial-up connection dialog? If so, maybe you need to go to the Explorer "Tools" menu --> Internet Options --> Connections Tab --> and check 'Never dial a connection", or you can specify to dial only when you arent' connected to your LAN.

For the other problem (and maybe the notebook too) I'm assuming you're using some sort of router/firewall deal (I highly recommend the Linksys Etherfact Cable /DSL Router) in which case you need to make sure you have it specified as your default gateway in your Network Settings TCP/IP Protocol properties (the TCP/IP on your Ethernet card, not the one for dialup).

How you get there depends on your OS, but generally you can right clicking on the "Network Neighborhood" and look for properties then highlight the TCP/IP on Etherwhatever and click properties. Then look for the default gateway address, where you should have the IP address of your router, and a subnet mask like (this is set to the same for all PCs on the network).

OK, then.

Posted by: SKBubba at May 31, 2002 08:35 AM

Any chance it could be something as simple as your explorer settings? Did you remember to check "only dial when connection not present" in tools/internet options/connections?

Posted by: TCA at May 31, 2002 08:36 AM

The best suggestion is one you don't want to hear, IP... "get a Mac." My own AirPort/iBook network has worked painlessly since I first plugged it in.

Sorry, I know that doesn't help you out.

Posted by: Will Collier at May 31, 2002 08:36 AM

Sorry, that was "Linksys Etherfast" (not "Etherfact"). And yes I can speel "aren't" and all the other misspeeled words I tipe from tyme to tyme.


Posted by: SKBubba at May 31, 2002 08:42 AM

This might be too obvious, but in IE (through Tools menu, Options selection, Connections tab) or through Control Panel for network connections (varies by OS version), make sure that you have set up your internet connection properly. It should probably be to go over the LAN.

Also, make sure you have the right WEP key on all machines if you are using encryption. This should be verified by looking at the actual key, not just the code word used to generate it. Linksys changed the key generation algorithm when I upgraded my firmware and my passphrase no longer generated the same key on the router as it did on my laptop.

Otherwise, I'll leave this to the pros who helped you choose your security package.

Posted by: John at May 31, 2002 08:42 AM

For windows 2000 machine run the dos prompt, now called command window. this done by Start/Run then typing cmd.

Then try the commands

ipconfig /release


ipconfig /renew

this applies for sure if you have a router like the linksys.

Posted by: N D Smith at May 31, 2002 08:44 AM

Try pinging your isp to be sure you are establishing a connection. The "page not found" error sounds like a firewall problem. If you are running a software firewall be sure to set it to allow your isp homepage in.

Posted by: William at May 31, 2002 08:45 AM

I have a wireless (Linksys WAP, various wireless adapters) setup myself. If the adapters can see the network, the problem is with your network's connection to the internet, not the wireless connection to the network, right?

Does your ISP provide fixed IP? Mine (Verizon) does not. So they occasionally reset my IP even while the router/gateway is keeping me logged on. I have to go into the router (usually accessed through the browsers at and reset the internet connection, usually in the mornings.

I have had significant problems with wireless (802.11b) adapters. Different makes have different ranges in my house. The Linksys card adapter pulls in no signal, although the Apple card I have is much worse (basically you have to shove the WAP into the back of the computer to get a signal). The cards that shipped with my Dell computers have a terrific range. All from the Linksys WAP...go figger.

Posted by: "Mindles H. Dreck" at May 31, 2002 08:48 AM

Is that the MSN Log-in dialog that appears on a new install of an OS? Like before you've gone through the connect the internet wizard? I know I've had the problem before where you can't go through internet connection wizard unless you go through the MSN crap. The way around this is to go to your internet settings in control panel (start->settings->control panel->internet properties). THen go to the connection tab and run the "setup" button which will run the wizard.

THen in the wizard, tell it you want to run on a LAN or manually configure your internet. I'm assuming this router is connected to a high-speed connection (I too recommend the Linsys wireless router). If that's the case, you likely need to turn off any proxy settings under the LAN button on the connection tab of Internet Properties. Also, you need to have your TCP/IP settings in Network neighborhood set to obtain an IP from a server (in this case that would be the router). This, BTW, is usually the default TCP/IP setting. One other thing, each computer needs to be set to log in to Client for Microsoft Networks. This is also in your network settings for Ethernet or Wireless card on each computer, the same place you set your TCP/IP settings.

Your router should have an internal IP of (this is pretty much universal for home networks). The router will give each computer an IP of, 101, etc if your TCP/IP settings are correctly set to obtain an IP. If all this is correct, your internet should just work as long as your router has shook hands appropriately with your cable/DSL modem.

HOpe this helps.

Posted by: Russell Goble at May 31, 2002 08:52 AM

Glenn, I know your setup must be more sophisticated than the Windows file sharing network I have at home, but your problem sure sounds like one I encountered getting mine to work.

I couldn't figure out what to do until I finally visited my ISP's website and found a help page addressing what I was trying to do. I'd been trying to run my home connectivity with TCP/IP. Instead I set up NetBEUI, and bound file sharing *only* to NetBEUI, and suddenly everything worked perfectly.

Probably not relevant, but just in case...

Posted by: Kevin M. McGehee at May 31, 2002 09:06 AM

I know that this is going to sound cloying, but have you thought about upgrading to another OS (this not knowing what OS that you are currently using)? I am using XP on my laptop right now, and modulo the weird UI experience, the XP experience has gone pretty well. XP handles wireless FLAWLESSLY. I have a wireless network at home and at work. The work wireless network uses a crypto-key and the home one does not. The laptop effortlessly toggles between the two without needing a reboot. Fairly impressive.

Posted by: Andrew at May 31, 2002 09:36 AM

Try the ipconfig suggestion. Also see if you can ping a site from a command prompt. If you know an ip address rather than a domain name to ping then that will help eliminate DNS issues from whatever the problem is.

Posted by: Andy at May 31, 2002 09:52 AM

Jeez, and I wanted to be the first to suggest you get a Mac. Seriously, though, Mac OSX is UNIX based, and a fantastic industrial strenghth OS for personal through enterprise use.

Think Different(ly).


Posted by: Ken at May 31, 2002 10:12 AM

IE connection setting -> "Never dialup"
all comps

first I suspect that the laptopo that won't connect at all is actually an XP notebook. In this case an undocumented step to get it to work right, is to disable "windows wireless services"
-Right click on "my computer"
-Select "manage"
-go into the services directory
-find "windows wireless services"
- stop it
-disable it
-shut the computer off.

-shut the entire network down
-start up the dsl/cable modem
-start up the router
-finally start up the computers

Everything should be alright.
go to
password admin

browse around and fund out about the settings, odds are eventually you are going to want to use one of them.

open up notepad
copy these 2 lines into it
c:\windows\system32\ipconfig.exe /release
c:\windows\system32\ipconfig.exe /renew

save it with the following file name to your desktop
(with the parentheses)
its the first thing you should try if your connection starts to fade.

alright later

Posted by: Brian at May 31, 2002 10:20 AM

Having done quite a bit of tech support, something like this is rarely solved in a posting/email. It involves a question & answer session that will branch to one of dozens of possible solutions. Give me a call at 423-357-1764 and we'll see if we can figure this out.

Posted by: Phil Trent at May 31, 2002 10:20 AM

Buy a Mac. I just bought an iBook and an Airport Base Station. Brought it home and was up and running in under 20 minutes total.

Posted by: John Engle at May 31, 2002 10:33 AM

"Buy a Mac". Blah, blah, blah. If the guy wanted to buy a freaking Mac, he'd have done so. All he wants is for his current setup to work without having to spend an inordinate amount of cash. Sakes.

Posted by: Hanta Virus at May 31, 2002 10:46 AM

I find that to fix all windows problems running "fdisk" takes care of it. :)

Seriously. Turn off any firewall software on the individual computers before trying to fix it.

At least you aren't having the problem I'm having. WinXP kills my local net completely. Even my router (smc 7004abr) does a complete reset. Very weird, unfortunately, I haven't been able to convince my wife to let me replace winxp on her laptop with Linux.

Posted by: rossz at May 31, 2002 10:53 AM

I see one person referred to the Linksys default password. Not sure what router/WAP setup you're using (and I wouldn't publicize it here), but if it's the Linksys or any other brand with a default admin login, I would certainly change the password. You probably already have...

Posted by: Kevin Whited at May 31, 2002 10:54 AM

It sounds like two issues --

1. The Firewall/router is not accessing the external network. This will probably be solved by rebooting the router. If you reboot it, leave it off for about thirty seconds or longer to let the capacitors dissipate -- that will force the DHCP addresses to be cleansed.

2. The actual laptop sounds like it's not getting the connection cleanly. Be sure to disable the dialup or and plug in ethernet connections under Control Panel>Network.

There may also be an address resolution issue on the machines -- be sure that they are using DHCP and that the router is configured to perform DHCP address resolution. For your localNet you can let the router issue IP addresses and resolve them to the IP address for the external network connection.

Make sure that the PCs do NOT have preset router addresses or DNS addresses.

And for Brian's post above -- good info, except to reach the router it's usually Most household routers default to that address and allocate up from there --,, etc.

Good luck...

Posted by: Joshua J. fielek at May 31, 2002 10:57 AM

I have a Linksys router. You need to be sure that the setup page for the router includes the DNS for yous ISP server. You will let the IP be selected automatically but you need the "DNS(required)" (scroll down from the "Specify an IP address" line) so that the computer knows where to look for the DNS info. This is more of a problem for Linux and older Win OSs then for the Win 2000 or XP OS. My wife's Win 98 did not have a problem but I had entered the DNS info into some program in her computer, but my Linux OS had no such program since I was entering the net via a gateway (the router).
Good Luck.

Posted by: David Constans at May 31, 2002 11:30 AM

I don't have a wireless network yet, but given what you've described, my instinct is that the problem is with the WAP or the internet connection rather than the computers; it's looking for MSN as a secondary dialup because it can't see the LAN.

NetBEUI is chatty but fine for a home network, if your WAP supports it (some of the router/switch ones apparently don't) and an easy fix to make; just install NetBEUI on both machines under the networking settings.

Troubleshoot first with your ISP, to make sure you can hit the 'net; second with Linksys. If you try to do it the other way, you'll go round in circles forever.

Posted by: Jane Galt at May 31, 2002 11:40 AM

all you who are angry about the "buy a mac" advice ... go buy yourselves a mac! :)

Posted by: paul at May 31, 2002 11:50 AM

Switch to Win 2000 pro if you are using Win 98, ME or XP. I've had no problems with my wireless network since I upgraded everything.

Posted by: Jack William Bell at May 31, 2002 11:54 AM

I Just installed a wireless network and had thew exact problem you report I spent hours tring to fix it and ultimately found that the drivers For my wireless receiver were screwed up in the (this is linksys) new "designed for XP" version, ( I was running Me) I ended up upgradeing to Xp and the thing worked like a charm.

Posted by: Moe at May 31, 2002 12:46 PM

My experience with this same problem is the well known ---kernel32DLL---problem. MS knows about it. It is a memory overflow that rages unchecked in Explorer. Suggest you go to Microsoft pages find the kernel32 entry and download the fix.

The best thing is to phone MS and pay the fee for a tech to help you if this fails.

Posted by: Howard Veit at May 31, 2002 12:59 PM

Nope, the linksys setup page on all the routers is and the password always defaults to admin.

the router starts allocating addresses at 100

its almost pointless to set the password since you can easily reset the password by pressing the red button on the back for 5 secs.

and NO do not set the DNS servers in the router. let it automatically lock on to what is availiable, static locks just cause trouble. (unless you are setting up some sort of extranet vpn) in other wordss do nothing.

you know the guess work would be caugght down if you described what exact components your netowrk is composed of (operating systems, card types etc)

Posted by: Brian at May 31, 2002 01:34 PM

Paul, and all other's recommending a platform change, you're missing the point. Glenn is asking for some technical assistance with his wireless network. Countless suggestions that the solution is to scrap the current system and drop a couple of grand to "buy a mac" aren't helpful at all.

Such remonstrations fail to address the problems directly, they're void of any relevant technical advice, and they're painfully obtuse - though in that they do share a common bond with most mac users I've met. They are also rather annoying, quite like the self-appointed "computer guru" spamming "zap the pram" in the background when you're on the phone to Apple Tech Support.

BTW - So far I think Joshua is on the right track. Also, if it is installed I'd drop the NetBEUI protocol when reconfiguring the NIC and stick with plain ol' TCP/IP. Fewer active protocols will ensure better overall network performance.

Posted by: Joe G. at May 31, 2002 01:39 PM

More info would be better -- the Linksys/NetGear differences alone would be enough to drive anyone batty.

For NT systems -- a lot of the new stuff is designed arounf NT5.1 (Windows XP), and has problems on the windows 9X derived OS's (Win 95, 98, 98SE, Me), although those problems are not insurmountable, the devices are much simpler to configure on Win 2K or XP.

However -- upgrading a laptop can be a royal pain in the ass, depending upon the manufacturer. Laptops are not as similar to desktop PCs as they'd like you to believe -- the LCD screens often require unique drivers, as do some of the really cool features, and you'll spend hours downloading drivers from the manufacturer when you upgrade.

It can be worth it, but be sure you can get support for all the functions on the laptop.

Posted by: Joshua J. fielek at May 31, 2002 01:43 PM

Oh yeah -- as several people have said, dump NetBEUI. It's not worth the hassle. Post Windows 98 machines communicate quite well with TCP/IP, including file sharing.

Posted by: Joshua J. Fielek at May 31, 2002 01:45 PM

Given Josh's advice about NetBEUI, I should note that yes, I am running Win98SE -- and if Glenn's platform is post-98 my earlier post is REALLY not relevant...

Posted by: Kevin M. McGehee at May 31, 2002 02:09 PM

I just set up a WAP net at home -- wouldn't connect from the Linksys WMP11 PCI card to the WAP11 Wireless access point. I got spurious ping hits with no solid connection. Tore what was left of my hair out.

Then I upgraded the firmware on both and everything worked perfectly. You can get the firmware upgrade from the Linksys site.

Posted by: ArcherWeps at May 31, 2002 04:12 PM

The Mac folks dislocating their shoulders in their enthusiasm to pat themselves on the back should remember their experience is not universal. I bill Mac folks at the same rate as PC folks to fix alarmingly minor problems they find baffling.

The fact is if you know what your doing and choose good brands of equipment wireless networking is a pushover on any major OS. The stumbling point is the 'know what you're doing' part Many wireless equipment vendors are guilty of some horrible interface designs that can leave a novice utterly at a lost. My favorite is the Netgear error message that refers to a parameter by a different name than the software where the parameter is set.

It is getting better. Under Windows XP a major portion of the stuff previously trusted to third parties is now native. In many cases all you have to do is plug in the card and say yes to joining the detected network.

If you Mac guys really want to be of help to someone go check out Lilek's problems. He hasn't had a smooth road with Apple wireless at all.

Posted by: Eric Pobirs at May 31, 2002 10:57 PM

Two words: install Linux.

Posted by: Brian Sinclair at June 1, 2002 03:34 AM

You must really hate instapundit to get him to install linux. I could only think of all the technical problems and driver issues he would run up against.

Hey linux is fine, just not with really new hardware/technology. compaines just don;t support Linux before they ship the product.

Posted by: Brian at June 1, 2002 09:18 AM